Overview

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Written by James Hamel

Overview (Overall Grade after 8 Categories: B)

Even when covered in an eye searing yellow paint job, the 2015 Ford Focus ST hot hatchback always pulls off the visual trick of looking seriously bad-ass thanks to all of its enormous body spoilers and huge alloys which scream to anyone within earshot that "I am not a REGULAR Focus!" Then, you open the door and your eyes are drawn to the enormous, hip hugging Recaro sport seats which in our tester had huge yellow accents just to make sure you could see them in the dark. From space.

Even though this was not true when the ST was first launched, some may call it just a "warm hatch" now with the upcoming 300-hp plus all-wheel drive Focus RS coming soon to satiate the market for what is essentially a street legal rally race car. The RS is a vehicle that will be for hardcore driving enthusiasts who want to take it to the track or dirt trails every weekend and hopefully for their insurance premium's sake have taken some courses at a racing school.

The upcoming Focus RS packs over 300 horsepower and has an advanced 4-wheel drive system as a necessity to safely harness that much forward thrust in a small family hatchback. Without 4-wheel Drive, the bound to be quite rare Focus RS would hurdle its owners into the nearest patch of shrubbery if they dared stomp the gas pedal too hard.

Now, back to what we came here to talk about which is the 2015 Ford Focus ST which despite its still somewhat mental approach to hurtling itself down a windy road is quite clearly a rather sensible hot hatch choice. Now, not as sensible as a Volkswagen GTI but in exchange for a little refinement and always feeling planted the Ford Focus ST revs like a lunatic from a 2.0 liter 252 horsepower/270 lb. feet of torque turbocharged Ecoboost motor offered only with a deliciously harmonious 6-speed manual gearbox only.

So against a GTI the 2015 Ford Focus ST is a tad bit of the hooligan. But does that bad boy edge given off by the ST something that grew wearisome to us or did we find it endearing? Read on to learn more.

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What we loved about the 2015 Ford Focus ST


  • The six-speed manual gearbox: everything from the chrome knob to the clutch actuation was perfect

  • Steering feel was razor sharp as was the handling so long as the weather cooperated

  • The intoxicatingly powerful 2.0 liter 252 horsepower/270 lb. ft. of torque EcoBoost 4-cylinder


What we didn't love about the Ford Focus ST


  • Useful five door layout only encumbered by oversized Recaro sport seats eating into rear leg room

  • At the Same Prices a Volkswagen GTI will feel more luxurious and refined to live with

  • Really? Yellow accents on the Recaro Seats? No.


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Exterior View (9 out of 10)

There are not enough nice things we can say about the way the 2015 Ford Focus ST hatchback looks what with its ultra-cool razor alloy wheels filling the arches and the body spoilers and cladding evident to show this is no SE but not so garish as to belong at a Subaru dealer. We are also eternally grateful to Ford for not making a Focus ST sedan as that model somehow ruins the entire look of the hatch and to us seemed a shocking stylistic misfire from the brand that has the Escape, Fusion, Fiesta, Mustang, Explorer, F-150 do we need to go on?

Ford doesn't usually mess up styling but the Focus sedan's trunk makes it look like it got attacked by a liposuction machine that was left on for too long. Anyway, good call Ford and we think it is only the truly innovative companies and people of this world that can see and learn from life's missteps.

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Interior Comfort, Quality and Overall Ease of Use (8 out of 10)

Here another shining example of Ford learning from past missteps as there were parts of the Focus and Focus ST interiors which felt like they had been cost cut and assembled with cheaper plastics here and there most especially if customers didn't order MyFordTouch with Sync, Nav and the Sony Premium audio system. Not that we are in any way discouraging you to still do that as we are highly impressed by all of Ford's Infotainment range after a few years working out bugs in the system.

For 2015 the Focus dashboard has been simplified with clearer buttons, a more logical layout and of course soft touch plastic everywhere. It makes for an attractive, upscale and somewhat Sci-Fi in feel dashboard set-up. You could almost imaging the cockpit of a Tie Fighter from "Star Wars" looking like the inside of a 2015 Focus so long as it's black. As in Darth Vader black. The ST Focus model also benefits from a new flat bottom steering wheel just because that apparently is the new trend in sporty cars. Even we don't understand but it looks nice.

Now, if you plan to take your 2015 Ford Focus ST then we totally understand the need to spec the car with the rather large two front Recaro Sport Seats. Sadly, optioning them into your car makes your Focus ST's rear seat feel a bit claustrophobic and designed for people who are masters of yoga. Under the hatch the cargo hold is generously large at 23.8 cubic feet stretching all the way to 44.8 cubic feet with the split folding rear seats in their most useful position. As a carrying space for cargo. A regular Focus is four you and four friends, the Focus ST is for you and your rally race navigator. With plenty of room to pick up gifts and trinkets for anyone you didn't bring along so they aren't mad when you get back from your road trip.

Technology (8 out of 10)

First off, as usual we focused on the audio and ease of use with the in-dash infotainment system and yet again we came away feeling that any buyer of the 2015 Ford Focus ST who didn't equip this sporty hatch with the 355-watt, 10-speaker (plus amplifier) premium sound system must hate music and a bargain. You can get the Sony audio upgrade, in-dash navigation and the MyFordTouch system for $795. Second hand buyers will want those goodies and you'll make more at trade in time.

And if you find the touch screen hard to use, we actually were shocked to find MyFordTouch actually understood us far better than Siri ever has to our voice commands. Besides, when driving a hot hatch with this much power you want your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The new steering wheel also boasts much simpler secondary controls for audio, phone and the like so you no longer wind up hitting a button to change to AM talk radio during spirited driving.

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Fuel Economy (7 out of 10)

First things first, while Ford does recommend premium gas to get the maximum performance from your ST's EcoBoost engine, it's nice to see that Ford engineered it to take regular gasoline without there being any unduly negative side effects.  So if you are off to the track put in the premium but on the weeks when you barely can make the rent it's nice to know your Focus ST won't try and bleed you dry. EPA fuel economy estimates are 23 city/32 highway and as with any EcoBoost motor your average will depend on how you drive this vehicle. If f you constantly bounce the 2.0 liter turbo motor off redline you can get it down to 19 miles per gallon but on one trip to San Diego where we kept at a steady click with traffic but with no outright hooliganism we squeezed over 29 miles out of each gallon. Impressive for this car's amount of performance.

Predicted Reliability and Initial Quality Ratings: (8 out of 10)

As the 2015 Ford Focus ST is just now rolling into dealerships and the regular 2015 variants still very new in owner's hands, J.D. Power only had its "predicted reliability" score ready and the Focus did alright with three out of five stars. Last year, however, 2014 model year vehicles were knocked by owners for initial quality issues which actually weren't real breakdowns at all.

Consumers complained about issues with the infotainment system which some owner's found confusing, the quality of the interior trim (clearly Ford listened here that's why they banished any rental quality plastic) and some gripes with the powertrain. We know that would have nothing to do with the ST model because the six-speed manual is easily one of the five best self-shifters we have ever tried. And that's a quality we like to see.

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Safety (8 out of 10)

The 2015 Ford Focus, which the ST sport hatch is based upon, was crash tested by the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) and received a "Top Safety Pick" score which is highly impressive. The Focus was only marked down a few points due to the new small front overlap test returning a score of "Acceptable" instead of "Good." But don't cry for the Focus here people it still gave the smack down to competitors like the Toyota Corolla, Kia Forte, Chevy Cruze (which were ranked marginal in the small front overlap impact) and the Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500L and Nissan Juke which all got a poor in that test which mimics the impact with an object like a tree or pole at 35 miles per hour. This type of collision can render crumple zones ineffective and according to the IIHS is the most deadly type of accident on U.S. roads.

Performance (10 out of 10)

For 2015 Ford made adjustment to the Focus ST's electric power steering and suspension tuning to help give this hot hatch with a bit more of a reputation as a wild child than, say, the VW GTI become a little more stable during high speed cornering. We could tell, however, that this Focus ST spent a lot of time being developed by Ford's European arm as it has always felt bank vault solid transporting you at less than legal speeds on the Autobahn.

Oh wait, we mean our American freeway where the posted speed limit is 65 miles per hour. And everyone honors that in Los Angeles as well. You know, when there is enough traffic to make commuters here slow to 65 miles per hour. We did notice on local LA freeways that the ST's brakes were strong with short stopping distances and zero fade over time. The six-speed manual gearbox in the ST is so perfectly geared and enjoyable to use you may find yourself just using the clutch pedal and engine revs to slow your hot hatch down in stop and go traffic. Trust us, this manual gearbox never will wear you out or make you wish for an automatic.

Dump the clutch on an open road and the 2.0 liter turbocharged 253 horsepower/270 lb. feet of torque EcoBoost 4-cylinder will push you back as it springs to life roaring its way to the engine redline. The 2015 Ford Focus ST can get going very fast very quickly so be sure to keep an eye on your speed as it is so refined inside this really hot hatch that you can easily find yourself traveling a whole lot quicker than you ever have before in any car thinking you were just putt putting along at 45 miles an hour. The ST isn't keen on going slow but it will with a suspension tune that is both compliant and never jittery over bumps yet maintains the car's stability during aggressive driving. That's a hard thing to be—both sporty and comfortable yet somehow the 2015 Ford Focus ST does it.

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Pricing and Value for Money (9 out of 10)

The 2015 Ford Focus ST starts at just over $24,000 and comes well equipped to start with push button start and a smart key entry system, 18-inch alloy wheels on high performance tires, alloy pedals for the brake, clutch and accelerator that match the gearshift knob and door scuff plates, two high speed charge USB ports, a back-up camera and of course the ST only flat bottom steering wheel, ST tuned sport suspension and last but not least the 2.0 liter 253 horsepower/270 lb. feet of torque Ecoboost turbo is standard. Besides a few exceptions like the stand alone optional power sunroof, there are really only two choices you need to make then regarding options. You either go with the ST2 upgrade package for $2,990 extra or the ST3 package for about $4,700 more bringing the price righty to the $30,000 mark.

To our way of thinking the ST2 package is really a "must have" as it brings with it the premium Sony 10-speaker audio system, MyFordTouch with the voice activated Sync system, half leather Recaro front sport seats, dual zone electronic climate control, HID headlamps that swivel around tight corners and HD Radio. To get in dash-navigation, the admittedly plush feeling full leather Recaro seats, power driver seat adjustment, a 3 level heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, an overhead console for your sunglasses and a security coded touch pad on the driver door to gain entry to your car you need to go for the ST3 package which truly has everything and the kitchen sink. Actually, we are pretty sure the Focus ST had no kitchen sink. At least not our tester.

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"The Final Numbers" and the Competition: (67 points out of 80)

The 2015 Ford Focus ST is a powerful beast that, especially in inclement weather with the traction control perhaps disengaged accidentally on purpose, can give immature drivers on empty roads a thrill as its back end will start to break away in a manner that is both surprising yet totally neutral and controllable. Still, it can make a person's heart jump into their throat which is both exhilarating and a bit scary. A VW GTI is a great all around hot hatch and it would be wise to test drive both of these before deciding as pricing can be pretty much identical, but never does the Volkswagen act like it is really giving you control of the car like the Focus ST.

The Ford, even if it is unwise for it to relinquish control to its driver over all 252 of its turbocharged horses spooled up and ready to rocket you towards whatever is in front of you, it feels more alive. But in the truth that the ST feels alive comes an unforeseen truth—one thing that binds all living things is that they are capable of mistakes. So that does mean the ST isn't as infallible in areas like steering accuracy and handling agility where the GTI, Fiesta ST and even the 2015 Honda Civic Si edge past it. Still, if you want a car with more power than it knows what to do with sometimes but always looks good and feels good to drive then absolutely consider the 2015 Ford Focus ST. It's a lot of power for the money.

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Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Hatchback - FWD
5dr HB Electric Motor FWD 29170
SE 5dr HB SE 4 Cylinder FWD 18960
Titanium 5dr HB Titanium 4 Cylinder FWD 23670
ST 5dr HB ST 4 Cylinder FWD 24370
Sedan - FWD
S 4dr Sedan S 4 Cylinder FWD 17170
SE 4dr Sedan SE 4 Cylinder FWD 18460
Titanium 4dr Sedan Titanium 4 Cylinder FWD 23170

Comparison of 2015 Ford Focus with Similar Cars

2015 Ford Focus MSRP Invoice
2015 Ford Focus $17,170 $16,183
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2015 Toyota Corolla $16,950 $16,018 2015 Ford Focus VS 2015 Toyota Corolla
2015 Nissan Sentra $16,530 $16,115 2015 Ford Focus VS 2015 Nissan Sentra
2015 Hyundai Elantra $17,250 $16,734 2015 Ford Focus VS 2015 Hyundai Elantra
2015 Mazda Mazda3 $16,945 $16,474 2015 Ford Focus VS 2015 Mazda Mazda3
2015 Dodge Dart $16,495 $16,480 2015 Ford Focus VS 2015 Dodge Dart

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2015 Ford Focus ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2015 Ford Focus rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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